Proverbs 13:1 ¶ A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.
A wise son is willing to receive correction and instruction from his father. A scorner or insolent son will not receive correction or instruction. Reminder—The wise son is one who honors the LORD and wants to live in obedience to His word. The scorner is one that has no respect for God or His word.
EBC Abridged: “The “mocker” is the highest level of a fool. He has no respect for authority, reviles religion, and, because he thinks that he knows what is best, is not teachable.”
Proverbs 13:2 ¶ A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.
Proverbs 13:3 ¶ He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
CJB: “A [good] man enjoys good as a result of what he says, but the essence of the treacherous is violence. He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but one who talks too much comes to ruin.”
The speech of a man that speaks with wisdom and careful forethought will receive good in return; his speech is conducive to life. He that chooses to rebel against God speaks rashly and falsely and does violence to others; he will suffer destruction. Again, this is a general principal applicable to a society in which God is honored. If the society has rejected the LORD, the wise man may suffer and the transgressor may prosper; but this proverb will prove true in the eternal future of each.
Clarke: “It has often been remarked that God has, given us two Eyes, that we may See much; two Ears, that we may Hear much; but has given us but One tongue, and that fenced in with teeth, to indicate that though we hear and see much, we should speak but little.”
Henry: “A guard upon the lips is a guard to the soul. He that is cautious, that thinks twice before he speaks once, that, if he have thought evil, lays his hand upon his mouth to suppress it, that keeps a strong bridle on his tongue and a strict hand on that bridle, he keeps his soul from a great deal both of guilt and grief and saves himself the trouble of many bitter reflections on himself and reflections of others upon him.”
Proverbs 13:4 ¶ The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
A sluggard is one who is lazy and slothful. He may want a lot of things, but is too lazy to put forth the effort to attain what he desires. A diligent, determined person, however, that is willing to work will be able to satisfy (from Hebrew for “fat”) many of his desires.
Ironside: “It is as true of spiritual things as of physical. The diligent seeker of the precious truths in the Word of God is the one who rejoices over that Word as one who finds great spoil. The sluggard’s lot in life is leanness of soul and continual dissatisfaction.“
Proverbs 13:5 ¶ A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.
A righteous man hates lying. Why? Because he honors the LORD, and the LORD hates lying.
Proverbs 6:16–17 “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue….”
Contrast implies that the wicked man embraces lying; because of that, his morality stinks (from Hebrew for “loathsome”) and brings him to shame and disgrace.
Proverbs 13:6 ¶ Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.
One who possesses a moral character will be obedient to the word of God. One who is immoral, however, is perverted and has no respect for God’s law as revealed in His word. I was reminded of the following verse.
Matthew 7:13–14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
God’s word defines a way of life that is specific and that goes against our sin nature. Few people (relative to the whole) are willing to deny themselves and follow the path of obedience to God’s word. Many, however, follow in the ways of the world that appeal to our sin nature.
Coffman quoting Dyer: “There is more bitterness following on sin's ending than there ever was sweetness flowing out of the sin's being committed. You that see nothing but delight in sin's commission will suffer nothing but woe in its conclusion. You that sin for your profits will never profit by your sins."
Proverbs 13:7 ¶ There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.
This verse expresses a spiritual truth that requires spiritual discernment. There are many people that are rich in the eyes of the world, but they are spiritually destitute and don’t even know it. There are also many that are poor in the eyes of the world that are spiritually rich before the LORD; they will enjoy the riches of eternal life with the LORD. I am reminded of God’s message to the church at Laodicea.
Revelation 3:17–18 “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
Proverbs 13:8 ¶ The ransom of a man’s life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.
One who is rich is a target for those who would want to take advantage of him for his wealth, to get rich from the ransom he would pay for his life. One who is poor has nothing to fear in that regard.
Guzik: “Morgan explains the thought in the positive sense: “That is to say that if wealth has its advantages, so also has poverty. The rich man by his wealth may be able to conserve his life, but the poor man escapes the very dangers into which the rich are brought.”
Proverbs 13:9 ¶ The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
I think the NLT expresses the heart of this verse: “The life of the godly is full of light and joy, but the sinner’s light is snuffed out.”
Again, this is a principle. This doesn’t mean that the righteous will never suffer. They will, however, be able to rejoice in the midst of their troubles because of the confident expectation they have for the future. The Old Testament saints were dependent on their faith in God as evidenced by their obedience to His laws established in the Old Covenant. We are blessed to know that our joy is rooted in Christ Jesus, and that He is always with us in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Nehemiah 8:10 “…the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Ironside: “The flame of testimony burns brightly when fed with the oil of grace, which only the righteous possess. The lamp of the wicked may flare for a moment, but their true state of affairs will soon be evident. He lacks the oil, so the light must fail.”
Proverbs 13:10 ¶ Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
I liked the NIV: “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”
EBC Abridged: “The idea of “pride” here describes contempt for other opinions, a clash of competing and unyielding personalities. This kind of conceited person creates strife, inflames passions, and wounds the feelings of others.”
Clarke: “Perhaps there is not a quarrel among individuals in private life, nor a war among nations, that does not proceed from pride and ambition.”
Guzik: “When people are focused on their own exaltation they will always attempt to advance themselves at the expense of others.”
Proverbs 13:11 ¶ Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.
I liked the CJB: “Wealth gotten by worthless means dwindles away, but he who amasses it by hard work will increase it.”
Ironside: “That which comes easily, slips away easily. One highly values and is careful in the use of the treasure for which he has toiled. The principle abides when applied to the true riches, the precious truth of God. Some, like a sponge, readily absorb, but as readily give out under pressure. That which is valued is what has been won by labor.”
Proverbs 13:12 ¶ Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
When one is expecting something, and the wait for it is extended more and more, one begins to be depressed or sick. Once they receive what was expected, it makes them happy.
On a personal note, I am so eager for the LORD’s return to take us home—especially as the world around us gets darker and darker. The fact that it is not yet the time doesn’t depress me, especially because there are those I love that still haven’t accepted Jesus as their Savior. However, the evil that is becoming so predominant in our culture truly grieves me, so in that regard my heart is sick. It makes me think of how Peter described Lot.
2 Peter 2:7–8 “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”
Proverbs 13:13 ¶ Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.
Considering the contrast, I believe “the word” is referencing the commandment or law of God. Solomon speaks from a perspective of reverence for God as the source of wisdom and truth. Those that despise God’s word will perish for eternity. Those that revere God’s word will be rewarded in eternity. That person is laying up treasures in heaven.
Proverbs 13:14 ¶ The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
We know that in the context of the book of Proverbs, the law of the wise is a reference to God’s law. To be obedient to God’s law promotes life and keeps one away from the traps set by the the flesh and the enemy that will end in one’s destruction.
Romans 7:5 “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”
1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour….”
Paul itemized a list of the works of the flesh that are deadly traps that will lead to destruction.
Galatians 5:19–21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Proverbs 13:15 ¶ Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.
A person with wisdom gains respect. Interesting, the Hebrew for “rough” includes “permanence, hard, rough and strong.” In contrast, with the first part of the verse, I understand it to mean that the way of the transgressor is rough; it brings no honor. Maybe the understanding is toward the mindset of the transgressor being hardened in his choice to reject God’s law.
Again, the question arises as to who honors the wise man and has no regard for the transgressor. The proverb is always true when understood from the perspective of the LORD. On earth, the principle holds true in a God-honoring society, just as the inverse prevails in a heathen society.
Proverbs 13:16 ¶ Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.
NLT: “Wise people think before they act; fools don’t and even brag about it!”
This is an either/or statement; one is either wise or foolish in their actions. The wise person takes into consideration all the facts and circumstances before making a decision. The fool forges ahead without thinking, exposing his lack of forethought.
Ironside: “How sad that so many who are wise as to this world, should be fools as to the next! And yet, true wisdom for this life is demonstrated by obedience to God and dealing with the knowledge His Word imparts. It is the sinfully foolish one who turns a deaf ear to the voice of truth.”
Proverbs 13:17 ¶ A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.
Interesting to note, the Hebrew for “messenger” states, “a messenger; specifically of God.” It is a fact that we are all amazing creations of God.
Psalm 139:1 & 14-15 “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me….I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”
As such, we are all created to be messengers or ambassadors of God that rightly represent Him. Wicked “messengers” are those that have rejected God; they have fallen or cast themselves into a path that leads to their destruction. Faithful ambassadors follow God in faith with a desire to rightly represent Him; they have chosen a path that leads to eternal life.
Proverbs 13:18 ¶ Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.
This is yet another proverb contrasting the difference between the foolish person that refuses correction or instruction and a wise person that is willing to heed such correction and instruction. The foolish will end up in poverty and shame; the wise will be honored and respected. Again, this is always true from a spiritual perspective—not always so from a worldly perspective.
Guzik: “A rebuke never feels good, but when we properly regard it and learn from it, we will not repeat the same mistakes over and over. This leads to honor in this life and the life to come.”
Proverbs 13:19 ¶ The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.
To attain what one desires from honest, hard work is pleasing, giving one a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. The foolish person, however, is so intent on his evil that he will never experience the pleasure of that truth.
Proverbs 13:20 ¶ He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
One who chooses people that are known for making wise choices as his friends is a wise person. One who chooses fools that have rejected God’s law as their friends is himself a fool and will suffer the destruction that awaits all fools.
Clarke: “To walk with a person implies love and attachment; and it is impossible not to imitate those we love. So we say, 'Show me his company, and I'll tell you the man.’ Let me know the company he keeps, and I shall easily guess his moral character.”
Proverbs 13:21 ¶ Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.
This is another proverb about reaping what you sow. The sinner, the one that rejects God and His word, will reap the results of his evil. The righteous, the one that honors God and His word, will reap the reward of his righteousness. Again, this proverb is always proven true from a spiritual perspective of eternity, but not always so from a worldly perspective.
Henry: “Whom God pursues he is sure to overtake. They may prosper for a while and grow very secure, but their damnation slumbers not, though they do….the righteous good shall be repaid. They shall be abundantly recompensed for all the good they have done, and all the ill they have suffered, in this world; so that, though many have been losers for their righteousness, they shall not be losers by it. Though the recompence do not come quickly, it will come in the day of payment, in the world of retribution; and it will be an abundant recompence.”
Guzik: “In their very nature, sinners will purse evil. Yet it is also true that evil pursues sinners. The power of evil and the evil one desires to keep sinners in their grasp.”
Proverbs 13:22 ¶ A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.
My words—A good man leaves an inheritance for his grandchildren; the wealth of the sinner is reserved for the just, lawful and righteous.
It is obvious that there are “good” people that honor God and His word that are poor in this world. With that in mind, the context implies to me that the inheritance and wealth being referenced are eternal in nature. A strong spiritual foundation is one of the greatest gifts one can leave to their children and grandchildren, the people they are most likely to influence in their lifetime. The spiritual riches that were available to but rejected by the sinner will be be enjoyed by the righteous person.
Proverbs 13:23 ¶ Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.
Some translations infer that though the poor man may work to produce a bountiful crop, bad management will bring it all to ruin—and that certainly makes sense. Others are more ambiguous with their wording.
I have to admit that the first thing I thought of (probably because of what is happening in America today) was the abuse that many have suffered under socialist/communist regimes that have taken advantage of the poor that work so hard to provide for themselves and their families. Socialism, communism and other types of dictatorships have proven over and over again to be systems of government led by those that have no wisdom, that lack good judgment. It grieves me so to see so many of the people of my country falling for the deception of those that would lead us into such a government with total disregard of the historical record.
Proverbs 13:24 ¶ He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
My words—A loving father will take the time and exert the effort to discipline and correct his son. Sometimes, the physical pain caused by a branch (or spanking spoon) applied with love, is one of the best deterrents. Obviously, this is not advocating beating one’s child in anger. An uncaring, unloving father will let his son do as he pleases.
The truth of this proverb is obvious to all. An undisciplined, spoiled child is no joy to be around. A respectful, obedient child that is loved by his father is most often loved by others.
Ironside: “Ours is a day of great laxity in discipline. The coming generation will reap the bitter fruit of the absence of restraint and the evident aversion to discipline in the majority of homes. A sickly sentimentality, supposedly wiser and more compassionate than God Himself, has made it fashionable to denounce the use of the rod as a relic of a barbarous age. But the difference in the character of disciplined children and the well-ordered home certainly proves the truth of Scripture. It is even worse when control is ignored among Christians on the plea that grace is reigning. Grace never sets aside restraint. The two principles are not opposed. In the divine ways, grace and restraint work side by side, as they should in the home.”
Clark quoting Rev. Holden: “By the neglect of early correction the desires (passions) obtain ascendancy….Pride is nourished, humility destroyed, and by the habit of indulgence the mind is incapacitated to bear with firmness and equanimity the cares and sorrows, the checks and disappointments, which flesh is heir to.
Proverbs 13:25 ¶ The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.
The chapter ends with another hard verse. The proverb states that the righteous will never suffer hunger, and the wicked will go hungry. In one’s lifetime, this principal holds true in a godly society, but not so in an ungodly society. However, it is always true from a spiritual perspective.